Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

CLE on Estate Administration Boot Camp

0000000 CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Administration Boot Camp, which will take place on Thursday, August 16, 2017 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dallas - Love Field in Dallas, TX. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Everything You Need to Know About Effectively Administering an Estate

Are you fully confident in your knowledge of the latest court and tax rules and the most effective transfer tools to ensure each client's estate is laid to rest according to the decedent's wishes, with minimal tax burden? This comprehensive 2-day instruction will give you all the skills you need to administer estates that include trusts and/or business interests without a hitch. Register today!

  • Don't miss any crucial notice and filing requirements when opening the estate - learn what must be done right away.
  • Get helpful forms and checklists that will help you in administration.
  • Understand how income and estate tax deductions interact and find the most advantageous way to structure the tax returns
  • Learn how to use disclaimers more effectively.
  • Clarify what must be done when the trust becomes irrevocable.
  • Protect your professional reputation with a practical legal ethics guide focused on trusts and estates practice.
  • Prevent mistakes in final petition and ensure each estate is closed quickly and without disputes.

Who Should Attend

This two-day, basic level seminar is designed for:

  • Attorneys
  • Accountants/CPAs
  • Enrolled Agents
  • Certified Financial Planners
  • Trust Officers/Administrators/Managers
  • Paralegals

Course Content


  • Forms of Administration and When They are Used
  • First Steps and Notices, Executor Duties, Opening the Estate
  • Marshalling the Assets
  • Key Intestacy Laws You Must Know
  • Handling Debts and Claims Against the Estate
  • Spouse Elective Share and Disclaimers
  • Trusts That Affect Estate Administration


  • Income Tax Returns
  • Portability and Estate, Gift, GST Taxes
  • Business Interests in Estate Administration
  • Legal Ethics in Estate Administration
  • Closing the Estate and Final Accounting
  • Estate and Trust Contests, Disputes, Challenges

Continuing Education Credit


Continuing Legal Education

Credit Hrs State
CLE 12.00 -  OH*
CLE 12.00 -  TX*

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 1.20

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants: 14.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

August 16, 2017 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

2017 Bruce M. Stargatt Legal Ethics Writing Competition

NNB0575r2-2x3-H-200x300The Delaware Bar Foundation is holding its 2017  Bruce M. Stargatt Legal Ethics Writing Competition.  Information about the competition is below:


The Delaware Bar Foundation is pleased to announce the…


The Competition: This writing competition is made possible by an initial generous gift to the Delaware Bar Foundation from Mrs. Barbara Stargatt and her family in memory of her late husband, Bruce M. Stargatt. Bruce was a distinguished Delaware lawyer who, among many other accomplishments, was a founding partner of Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, and a past president of the Delaware Bar Foundation and the Delaware State Bar Association.

Writing Topic: In keeping with Bruce Stargatt’s keen interest in legal writing and the ethical practice of law, we invite scholarly papers concerning ethical issues in the practice of law. Beyond this general description, the precise issue to be dealt with is in the author’s discretion.

Eligibility: The competition is open to: (i) students enrolled in, and 2017 graduates of any American Bar Association accredited law school, (ii) individuals who have registered for or have taken the 2017 Delaware Bar Examination, (iii) law clerks currently employed by a member of the Delaware judiciary, and (iv) Delaware attorneys admitted for no more than five years.

Prizes and Publication: Cash prizes of $3000, $1000 and $500 will be awarded to the top three papers. The first place paper will be published in “Delaware Lawyer” magazine (a publication of the Delaware Bar Foundation, distributed quarterly without charge to all members of the Delaware Bar). The author of the first place paper will be invited to receive his or her prize at the Delaware State Bar Association/Delaware Bar Foundation seminar in Wilmington in the fall of 2017. Prizes will not be awarded if the judges determine that a sufficient number of entries do not meet the appropriate standards.

Deadline and Submission: (1) Papers must be submitted by midnight (EDT) on September 15, 2017.(1) Papers must be submitted by midnight (EDT) on September 15, 2017.(2) Papers must be submitted electronically to mflynn@delawarebarfoundation.org.(3) Direct questions to Bruce M. Stargatt Legal Ethics Writing Competition, Delaware Bar Foundation, 100 W. 10th St., Suite 106, Wilmington, DE 19801, or 302-658-0773, ormflynn@delawarebarfoundation.org.(4) Prize winners will be informed on or before November 1, 2017.

Rules: (1) No paper that has been previously published in any form will be considered. However, papers written for course credit will be considered as long as they have not been published.(1) No paper that has been previously published in any form will be considered. However, papers written for course credit will be considered as long as they have not been published.(2) Each paper must be the original work of the submitting author. The author must execute and submit with her/his paper the License Agreement attached hereto.(3) The length of the paper should not exceed 2500 words, including the title page, body, footnotes, figures and tables, if any. The Delaware Bar Foundation reserves the right to edit papers for publication due to space constraints when necessary.(4) Citations should be in standard Bluebook form.(5) A cover page that includes the author’s name, contact information and eligibility to enter the competition should be included with the paper at the time of submission.

August 8, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility, Writing Competitions for Students | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Article on Aspects of Loyalty

Lionel Smith recently published an Article entitled, Aspects of Loyalty, Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

One of the many current controversies around fiduciary obligations is whether the duty of care and skill owed by a fiduciary is properly called a fiduciary duty. Another is what is the content of the fiduciary duty of good faith, and whether it stands apart from the duty of loyalty, or rather is merely an aspect of it. This paper builds on recent work that identifies loyalty as a legal requirement for fiduciary decision-making, which is not, however, a Hohfeldian duty. This understanding calls for further investigation into the other aspects of the legal implementation of loyalty. In relation to both the duty of care and the duty of good faith, the paper asks why it might matter whether such duties were fiduciary duties, or duties of loyalty, and how we can properly answer these questions. It concludes that there are several aspects to how the law implements loyalty.

Special thanks to Robert H. Sitkoff (John L. Gray Professor of Law, Harvard Law School) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 2, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Accumulated Wealth? Here's What to Do Next

AdvisorWhen individuals accumulate and save substantial amounts of wealth, there is a point where it becomes difficult to know exactly where to place and invest the funds. There are many in-person and online resources that provide advice tailored to a client’s specific needs. But before choosing a firm, do some research. Figure out what it is exactly that you need. If you are in the market for a multi-generational financial planner, then online resources may not be appropriate.

It is also extremely important to get to know your potential advisor. Ask about their methodology and how they plan to invest your funds. Look at their returns from year to year. Finally, and possibly most importantly, make sure your advisor is who they say they are, are actually backed by the credentials on their card, and have not been subject to disciplinary action by any professional organization.

See Robert Powell, Accumulated Wealth? Here's What to Do Next, USA Today, July 9, 2017.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 12, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

In Re Portnoy Analysis

JerseyIn Re Portnoy, a 1996 bankruptcy case, was the first in a line of decisions dealing with foreign asset protection trusts (FAPT). In this case, Portnoy personally guaranteed the liabilities of his company. When he became aware that his company was nearing insolvency, he transferred a substantial portion of his property to a Jersey trust and filed for bankruptcy. A major consideration of the court was whether New York or Jersey law would govern. Two factors the court analyzed in choosing New York law were Portnoy’s fraudulent transfer of  his assets and the detriment to his creditors, and the fact that all of the parties, excluding the trustee, were located in the U.S.

Portnoy’s general reasoning laid a very strong groundwork for future court’s deciding FAPT trust cases.  Future courts would decide against FAPT holders on several other grounds, but at the core of future reasoning is a general disdain for debtors who try to structure their affairs in a way to defrauds creditors.  It’s simply not a practice that courts want to condone through their decisions.

See Hale Stewart, Guest Blogger Hale Stewart Analyzes In Re Portnoy (Asset Protection Case), Wealth & Risk Management Blog, June 30, 2017.

July 6, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Estates Of Madoff's Dead Sons Reach $23 Million U.S. Settlement

Madoffnewyork (1)The estates of Bernie Madoff’s deceased sons have reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. government. In total, the estates will hand over $23 million to the victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Irving Picard, the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee, sued the estates and accused the brothers of squandering over $150 million on lavish lifestyles with fraudulently obtained monies. Picard has recovered nearly $11.5 billion of the $17 billion Madoff took from victims.

Picard, a lawyer with Baker & Hostetler LLP in New York, never believed the brothers’ claim that hadn’t known about the fraud until Madoff confessed to it. He claimed the fraud at Madoff’s investment advisory unit overlapped with the businesses overseen by his sons. And he rejected a claim by the brothers’ lawyers that the men earned their money through their work and that their families deserved to keep it.

See Erik Larson, Estates Of Madoff's Dead Sons Reach $23 Million U.S. Settlement, Private Wealth, June 26, 2017.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 4, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thouron Estates

Bad lawyerJudge Mark L. Tunnell, in a 212-page-long opinion, wrestles with the issue of the appropriateness of attorney, accountant, and executor fees. There are two sizable estates considered in the opinion. The Estate of Sir John Rupert Hunt Thouron had a value of $46 million. His son, John Julius Thouron, had an estate valued at $13 million. Regarding the son’s estate, Executor Charles Norris was surcharged $753,000. The firm of Lamb McErlane PC was ordered to disgorge $135,882. In the estate of Sir John Thouron, Executor Charles Norris was surcharged a total $5,672,999. Lamb McErlane was ordered to disgorge $4,351,310 in fees, and Norris and the Lamb firm were jointly surcharged $557,001.

See Patti S. Spencer, Thouron Estates - READ ALL ABOUT IT!, Spencer Law Firm, June 21, 2017.

Special thanks to Patti S. Spencer for bringing this article to my attention.

June 29, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

CLE on Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries 2017

The American Law Institute is holding a CLE entitled, Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries 2017, which will take place July 13-14, 2017, at the Sheraton Boston Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. Provided below is a description of the event:

Why You Should Attend

Join us for an in-depth look at the divergent interests of trust and estate beneficiaries and fiduciaries! This unique program examines the ever-changing landscape that representatives of trust and estate beneficiaries and fiduciaries must navigate, focusing on industry practices that are, or are likely to be, the basis of complaint or conflict. Hear the perspectives of a broad-based faculty and get practical strategies for representing the interests of settlors, fiduciaries, and beneficiaries in controversies that can arise when administering complex trust and estates.

Updated for 2017, this year’s program devotes equal parts to the latest tax, litigation, liability, and fiduciary developments. Topics include:

Strategies for advancing fiduciary interests, without “crossing the line”

Techniques for advancing beneficiary interests, without enormous legal cost

The accounting strategy for the defender and the objector

The ethics of usual, if questionable, practices

New developments in state and federal law

The fiduciary litigation landscape—and potholes

Three areas where liability lays in wait

Investment management agreements, referral relationships, releases, reduced standards of care, and other trustee-friendly arrangements

Investment management tools and risk assessment metrics

No-contest clauses

Tax avoidance

Fixing the broken trust

The impartiality fallacy

What You Will Learn

If you advise fiduciaries or beneficiaries, look no further for sophisticated analysis and practical advice to skirt risk and provide a superior outcome for your clients.

Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries 2017 examines developments in the estate and trust world from the wide-ranging perspectives of settlors, fiduciaries, and beneficiaries. An outstanding national faculty of trust and estate practitioners, wealth managers, and trust administrators addresses such key topics as:

Fiduciary litigation developments

Non-tax developments

Litigation tactics

Practical ethics

Postmortem planning

Tax planning and state taxation of trust income

Liability in existing trusts

Modeling and metrics for monitoring trust issues

Register today! Hear from some of the best in the business in an environment that promotes formal discussion, as well as personal connections, with faculty and other experienced trust and estate professionals from across the country. Get the insights you need to advise your clients and respond to their toughest questions.

Study Material

Going green in 2017! Course materials will be available in electronic format for download the week before and during the course. Print materials will not be distributed. All registrants are advised to bring laptops or tablets to the course to view the course materials, including updates.

Register two or more and SAVE! Register one person for the in-person course at full price and save 50% on all additional in-person registrations for this course from your organization. Separate discounts are also available for group webcast registrations. Click on "Group Rates" for more information. (Offers valid on new registrations only; discounts may not be combined.)
Tuition for this Live Course is $1,699.00.
Tuition for this Video Webcast is $1,299.00.

Tuition for the webcast includes a set of electronic course materials and access to the webcast.

This course is available in individual webcast segments


June 28, 2017 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Professional Responsibility, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fiduciary Rule Fight Brews While Bad Financial Advisors Multiply

LaborCurrent research has confirmed serious problems with the manner in which Americans receive their financial advice. The financial industry, despite great strides, is still struggling with large numbers unscrupulous advisors. The Fiduciary Rule, set to take effect earlier this year, was designed to alleviate some of these issues. Donald Trump, after taking the presidency, ordered the Department of Labor to reconsider the rule. Lack of support for more regulation and a general concern with potential side-effects by the President is also mirrored in Congress. Given the outlook of the new administration, the adoption of the rule, especially in its original form, is doubtful. Objectively, the rule is certainly not a fix-all solution and its passage does entail some possible negative repercussions. But, regardless of outcome, the financial field remains rife with malcontents and miscreants. The average firm employs around 8% of advisors that have a record of serious misconduct. Of this 8%, nearly half of them keep their jobs even after being caught. Even worse, nearly 38% of the misbehaving advisors go on to do more harm to other clients. Though the Fiduciary Rule may be controversial and uncertain, what is certain is that industry changes must be made in order to repair and sustain an image of professionalism and trust in financial advisors.

See Ben Steverman, Fiduciary Rule Fight Brews While Bad Financial Advisors Multiply, Wealth Management.com, June 7, 2017.

June 13, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Legal Profession Is Failing Low-Income and Middle-Class People. Let’s Fix That.

AaEighty percent of low-income individuals in the US cannot afford needed legal assistance. Middle-income Americans fare little better with forty to sixty percent of their legal needs going unmet. Many of these individuals are forced to represent themselves in foreclosures, family disputes, and landlord-tenant disputes. Most are unprepared to navigate the complexities of the legal system. A possible solution to this problem is a legal model more reflective of the current medical hierarchy. Nurses, technicians, and pharmacists help provide aid to underserved communities and can reach populations that are inaccessible to most physicians. Allowing paralegals and others close to the legal system to take on more responsibility with minimal additional legal education could provide legal assistance to these underserved populations. Many legal tasks do not need to be performed by a licensed lawyer; adoption of a tiered system of legal-services lowers barriers to entry and may increase access to legal services.

See Jennifer S. Bard & Larry Cunningham, The Legal Profession Is Failing Low-Income and Middle-Class People. Let’s Fix That., The Washington Post, June 5, 2017.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

June 8, 2017 in Current Events, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)